Accused marijuana smuggler Peyton Eidson, who allegedly lived a secret life as a fugitive in north Queensland for almost 30 years, has been refused bail in a San Francisco court out of fears he may flee to Mexico or Australia.
US citizen Eidson, 72, who was transported from Australia to California last week to face charges alleging he was the leader of an Asia-US marijuana smuggling operation in the 1980s, had hoped to be released on bail at Thursday’s hearing in the US District Court.
Eidson’s lawyer Erick Guzman rejects his client is a flight risk and plans to file an appeal on the bail ruling.
Mr Guzman fears Eidson, who is battling medical issues and has been in custody since last week’s arrival in the US, will deteriorate further if he remains in the harsh US jail system.
“It is really going to start to wear on him and we have to get him bail somehow soon,” Mr Guzman told AAP.
Eidson was arrested in 1985 after US authorities seized a shipment of more than 1000kg of Thai marijuana, but he allegedly fled to Australia with his wife Sonja and daughter Maya and lived for decades using fake identities.
Sonja died from cancer last year and Maya, owner of well-known Mackay restaurant Maria’s Donkey, remains in Queensland.
Mr Guzman said Eidson’s aim was to return to Australia and live out the rest of his years with his daughter and friends.
Federal MPs Warren Entsch and Bob Katter have offered their support for Eidson’s return.
Judge Sallie Kim, however, had fears Eidson could flee again while on bail, with some evidence he had owned or leased properties in Mexico in the past.
“His main goal, as he stated repeatedly, is to reunite with his family in Australia,” Mr Guzman said.
“He considers Australia his home.
“The only way he could live in Australia with his family is to go through proper channels and Australia is not the type of place where you can easily sneak into like you could to Mexico.
“You can’t get on a plane, he can’t get a visa unless he does it properly and I can’t see him at his age stowing away on a boat and even if he could, he doesn’t want to go on the run with his daughter and granddaughter.
“He wants to live out in the open.”
Eidson, who became a popular figure in the north Queensland town of Julatten where he operated a health spa, is also accused of using the false identity of Michael Goldrick to apply for US passports